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Adobe delivers strong earnings and raises its forecast

Adobe Systems Inc. saw its stock tick up a notch thanks to strong fiscal first-quarter financial results that beat expectations. The mildly positive investor reaction came despite guidance for the next quarter that came up just short of estimates.

The company, which sells software and services for creative artists and marketers, reported a profit before certain costs such as stock compensation of $1.71 per share on revenue of $2.6 billion. Wall Street was looking for juste $1.62 per share on revenue of $2.55 billion.

Adobe’s guidance for the next quarter wasn’t quite so encouraging, however. Officials said they expect a profit of $1.77 per share on revenue of $2.7 billion, whereas analysts had forecast $1.88 per share on $2.72 billion in revenue.

Lower guidance such as this is usually enough to send investors fleeing, but that didn’t happen today. Instead, Adobe’s shares actually rose by percentage point in the after-hours trading session.

Most likely that’s because investors have confidence in the company’s long-term plans. Adobe Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen (pictured) is in the process of transforming the company from a maker of creative tools for images, video and digital art into one that also sells a lot of marketing tools. In the last year, Adobe made two expensive acquisitions in pursuit of that goal, buying automation software firm Marketo Inc. for $4.75 billion last September and snapping up an e-commerce company called Magento Inc. for $1.6 billion in May.

Adobe officials said in a conference call that those acquisitions will start to bear fruit later this year, kickstarting a new period of growth. As a result, the company raised its earnings forecast for the full year. It now expects to see a profit of $7.80 per share, up from its earlier forecast of $7.75 per share.

Ray Wang, principal analyst, founder and chairman of Constellation Research Inc., said the addition of Marketo and Magento would soon have a material impact on Adobe’s Digital Experience business, which pulled in revenue of $743 million in the quarter just gone. He added Adobe’s Document Cloud business was also showing more traction, reaching $1.49 billion in revenue for the quarter.

“Adobe has done a good job managing the stock price and the recent slate of acquisitions points to a deeper commitment to growing the enterprise business,” Wang said.

Another possible reason for investor’s optimism is Nvidia Corp.’s upcoming GPU Technology Conference, which is set to take place next week in San Jose, California. Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told SiliconANGLE that the two companies have a long history of cooperation, and that Adobe will probably benefit from whatever Nvidia announces.

“Depending on what Nvidia announces and whether Adobe is on stage, I’d anticipate some upside during next week’s event,” Enderle said.

Still, the analyst said that he did have some concerns over Adobe’s interest expenses, which more than doubled from $19 million to $40 million in the last year on a big increase in its short-term debt.

“This tends to be expensive debt and given it is short- and not long-term, the trigger was tactical and not obvious from the financials,” Enderle said. “I’d want to be really sure that this debt spike didn’t somehow cause revenues to be overstated given the amount is a significant portion of reported revenue for the quarter.”

Photo: Christopher Michel/Flickr

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